Maxime the Stylite Monk has lived in a monastery atop Georgia’s 131 foot Katskhi pillar for twenty years.
Maxime, who at 59 needs twenty minutes to make the climb down (third photo), said, “Since i was a child I dreamed of settling on the top of this pillar as other hermits did in ancient times.”
As a young man, Maxime led a life of crime, but decided with his release from prison to start a new life, take his monastic vows and climb the pillar, which he has lived on since 1993.
Though no one knows exactly how or why, the monastery was built sometime between the sixth and eight century. the pillar had sat idly since the 15th century when the Ottomans invaded Georgia. No one had even been to the top for centuries until an Alpinist climbed it and found the skeleton of a monk in 1944.